Table of Contents
Story in a Nutshell
In this story, Rabindranath Tagore tells us about a man who did not do any useful work in his life but still found his way to heaven. There he is mistakenly placed in Workers’ Paradise, a place for useful and busy men. He did not fit in at all, but slowly began to introduce his art to the people there, changing their dull lives. The elders of Workers’ Paradise were very alarmed by this and kicked him out, but the man had already made his impact.
A Useless Man goes to Heaven
The man had never believed in basic utility. As he had no useful work, he lost himself in mad ideas- he made tiny models of men, women and castles, strange earthen things with seashells over them. People laughed at him because he wasted his time on such useless and needless things. Sometimes, he tried to forget these ideas, but they stayed in his mind.
Some boys rarely study but pass their tests. The same thing happened to this man. He spent his life doing useless work, but after his death he found himself in Heaven. But fate plays a role even in heaven. So, the aerial messenger (angel) in charge of the man made a mistake and put him in Workers’ Paradise, a place where you find everything except free time.
Here people say that they do not have a moment to spare, and that time is precious. They complain that they have a lot of work to do, and make use of every single minute, but this actually make them happy.
But this newcomer did not fit into Workers’ Paradise at all because he had passed all his time on Earth without doing any useful work. He lazed about in the streets and pushed the busy men. He lay down in fields or by streams, and was taken to work by busy farmers. He was always a disturbance.
The Man meets the Girl of the Silent Torrent
A girl hurried to a silent torrent (stream) every day to fill her pitchers (jugs). The stream was silent because even a stream in Workers’ Paradise would not waste its time making noise. The girl moved on the road like the fast movement of a skilled hand on guitar strings. Her hair was messy, falling across her forehead and into her dark eyes.
The lazy man was standing by the stream. Like a princess is filled with pity on seeing a beggar, the girl saw the man and was filled with pity. She asked with concern if he had no work to do. He answered that he did not have any time to work.
The girl did not understand and said that she would find some work for him. The man replied that he had been waiting to do some of the girl’s work and asked for one of her pitchers, because he wanted to draw pictures on it. The girl was annoyed by this suggestion and walked away.
But they kept meeting every day, and every day the man asked for one of the girl’s pitchers to draw on. At last, she gave one to him. He started painting, drawing lines and putting colours. When he had completed his work, the girl looked at the pitcher, confused. She asked what was the meaning and purpose of all the lines and colours.
The man laughed and said that they had no meaning or purpose. At home, the girl carefully scanned the painting on her pitcher. For the first time in her life, she had seen something with no meaning or purpose. The next day, she was less hurried. A new sense without any meaning or purpose seemed to have awakened in her.
Trouble in Workers’ Paradise
Next, the painter wanted to make a coloured ribbon for the girl’s hair. It did not have any purpose either. Bright coloured ribbons were made and the busy girl had to spend a lot of time tying them around her hair. Much work was left unfinished.
Lately, work had begun to suffer in Workers’ Paradise. Formerly active people were now idle, wasting time on useless things like painting and sculpture. The elders were worried and called a meeting. All agreed that such a thing had never happened in Workers’ Paradise before.
The aerial messenger hurried in and confessed that he had brought a wrong man into this paradise who had caused all of this. The man was called for. When he came, the elders saw his fantastic dress, his strange brushes and paints and knew that he was not meant for Workers’ Paradise.
The President said that he must leave because this was not a place for people like him. The man was relieved and gathered his things. But as he was about to go, the girl from the silent torrent cried that she would go with him too. The elders were surprised. Something like this had never happened in Workers’ Paradise before- something that had no meaning or purpose at all.
Through this story, Tagore explains that although art may seem useless, it is essential to life. Art brightens up our daily lives, and so we must find a balance between the useful work that is necessary for us to survive, and art, which is important for our happiness.